Last month we focused on marketing yourself and your business to bring qualified leads to your door. Hopefully some of the techniques we outlined in Are Your Branding & Marketing Authentic to You, 10 Free Ways to Market Yourself and Your Business, and Making Wedding Shows Work for You helped to increase the number of couples interested in your products and services. Once potential customers contact you, that's when you enter enter the realm of sales and the real work of converting couples into clients begins.
Whether it’s in the studio, office, or out on the road, most of the time as wedding professionals, we meet with only the couple to discuss their big day. Occasionally a parent or friend will come along for support or to provide a second opinion. On rare occasions, though, I’ve had entire families or wedding parties attend the sales meeting, making it difficult for me to concentrate my efforts while fielding questions from everyone. Who’s really in charge? Whom do I address? Where do I even look when speaking? Does everyone’s input matter?
Here are some tips to make the situation easier and avoid some common pitfalls when addressing large groups:
Put on your game face. By this I mean, be nice and polite and greet everyone. You may be inwardly groaning that you now have to give a sales presentation to 13 people, but outwardly you should act as if you do this all the time and are happy to see them. You never know who is getting married next, who holds the purse strings or whether the couple values another person's opinion above all others. I once sold two weddings in one meeting (unbeknownst to me at the time) because a bridesmaid in attendance was also planning a wedding.
Decide who is important. I made a personal decision early in my career that the couple’s opinion mattered most to me regardless of who pays or who is asking the questions. I direct most of my sales information (after all, it is their wedding) to the couple getting married; however, I make sure to also acknowledge the other parties present. This may take the form of making eye contact with everyone throughout the conversation, asking direct questions of the other parties present, or spinning fun anecdotes that include them. After all, if they're participating in the vendor interview, it's almost certain they'll be attending the wedding!
Control the meeting. While I try to cater to everyone, I do not let others take over the presentation, ask endless questions, or overrule the couple in any way. The last person the couple wants to work with is someone who will not cater to them on their wedding day. A lot of times family members and other parties have not spent time on your website or researched the same vendors as the couple. They are coming to the meeting with no information about you or your company, and therefore have many basic questions and concerns. While I try to reassure everyone, I don’t spend a lot of time in this area, especially at the cost of giving the couple the information they seek to make a decision.
Pay attention to the group dynamics. I spend a good portion of the sales meeting paying attention to body language. Maybe someone is not thrilled to be there (sitting away from the table with arms crossed), perhaps a friend is trying too hard to assert her opinion (uses lots of hand gestures and talks excitedly about herself), or possibly a parent is trying to guilt the couple (constantly interrupts them while casting sideways glances). Any of these factors will affect the meeting and ultimately the wedding day. Body language can also give you strong clues as to who is funding the wedding, who has the most influence with the couple and whom you have to win over before the meeting is finished.
Be consistent. Just because you typically sell to one or two people does not mean you have to drastically alter your delivery to accommodate everyone. I give the same presentation in the same way no matter the number of people in the room. I might look around more; I might answer more questions, but I’m providing the same information. I’m still going to be working with the couple the day of the wedding and they still need to feel comfortable with me and my services.
So, the next time you are confronted with a group of smiling (or perhaps unsmiling) faces at a sales meeting, just remember: ultimately, you will earn everyone’s respect once they see you are truly dedicated to the people they love - the couple getting married.